or a long time, Carrollton was its own city, separate from the rest of New Orleans, possessed of its own unique identity and character. To this day, mail sent here is sometimes addressed to “Carrollton” instead of “New Orleans.”
Like much of Uptown New Orleans, Carrollton was originally plotted as a plantation – in this case, on land belonging to Le Sieur de Bienville, the founder of New Orleans. The plantation passed through several hands before it was split into plots by the New Orleans Canal & Banking Co.
By the 1830s, houses were springing up in this largely rural area; by 1845 it was incorporated as the city of Carrollton. At the time Maple St was known as Second St, but beyond the name difference not much has changed; Second St was a well known commercial corridor. Carrollton was linked to New Orleans proper by the New Orleans and Carrollton line, today the oldest street railway line operating in the USA.
In many ways, it was this infrastructure that knit the suburb of Carrollton into New Orleans proper, paving the way for a formerly rural retreat to become a valued addition to the New Orleans neighborhood experience.
Laying as it does on relative high ground, Carrollton has been spared the worst effects of the major storms of the past, although falling tree limbs do tend to ruin homes and cars when hurricanes hit.
Carrollton is decidedly a part of Uptown New Orleans, but largely lacks the grand estates of the Garden District and St Charles Ave. Instead, Carrollton is rife with both attractive shotgun homes and newer style bungalows, a testament to the experimental tastes of the academics and students who have long called this area home.
But what really aesthetically defines Carrollton is the color green. Yes, the Garden district may be more famous for its nature, but trees and roots and the inescapable fertile lushness of New Orleans are just as powerful of a presence in Carrollton. Without a doubt, one of the loveliest drives or bike rides in the city is whirling down Carrollton Ave under a natural shady arbor of live oak branches. When the sun is shining and spring or summer has hit, the leaves grow so thick you’d be forgiven for thinking you had entered a chlorophyll molecule.
This is a prosperous, pleasant slice of the city, largely populated by young professionals, starter families and people employed or enrolled at Tulane or Loyola. As such, Carrollton sometimes has the buzz of a college town, and we use every definition of the word “buzz” here there’s plenty of stimulating intellectual philosophizing in local coffee shops, plenty of carousing at the bars that clump towards the Mississippi River. Closer towards said river is a smaller sub-neighborhood of Carrollton known as Black Pearl; this primarily African American area is best known for producing the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson.
Besides the afore-mentioned Carrollton Ave, Maple Street and Oak Street are the main commercial thoroughfares here. Both are jam packed with coffee shops, boutiques, bars, restaurants and everything else that makes city living so fine. Parking is pretty easy to find around here, but beware of one-way, and sometimes awfully paved roads – they’re the bane of the continued existence of your car tires. For our purposes, Carrollton is bound by the Mississippi River, the Jefferson Parish border, Broadway, and Louisiana Street.